So why would a former Piccadilly Radio breakfast show presenter and BBC TV regional news reader be any good at writing songs? You’re right, maybe they’re not great songs, but I enjoyed writing and recording them, and I hope you like or two of them as well. The video I ever made was when at the BBC in 1988 for “Love in A Suitcase”. (Click right) Shot on VHS tape and pretty technically horrid!
Based in Bristol in the 1980’s I played keyboards in a local band called The Rescue Party, and we practiced in the boiler room of the Bristol Hewlett Packard offices as the bass player Jon worked there. Jenny, our lead singer had a fine voice and I hope she found success after our band!
Some of my songs go back to the 70’s; I was a DJ on Piccadilly Radio 261 in Manchester, UK (me reading the paper below right) and worked with the excellent Susie Mathis pictured right who was the lead singer of the 60’s band The Paper Dolls. She wrote the lyrics and sang on “The Marathon Song” or “Run, Run, Run” you can view above.
In 1980 thanks to the work of former Radio 1 DJ and record manager Dave Eager, a song called “It Happened Then” got released as a single all over Europe and was a Radio Luxembourg Powerplay. I recorded it at smile studios in Chorlton cum Hardy in Manchester using the “sonovox” system, taught to me by Piccadilly Radio’s commercials producer, the legendary Steve England.
Simply, you play the lead line on a synth and this gets played back through two Tandy loudspeaker tweeters pressed against the throat. You mouth the lyrics and the microphone pics up the “robot” sound. Far better than Vocoder, but very hard to get right. I wish I could go back in time and re-record the vocals!
We made a video at Mike Mansfield’s video editing suite (2 inch VT decks!) In London where Dave Eager got us all glittery spacesuits to wear and brought some toy robots to use as props! It took days to get the silver off our faces!
I recorded a new version of “It Happened Then” recently. Hope you like that as well. Many people think that my 1980 song “inspired” The 1984 Lazy Jones computer game theme “Stardust” which became Zombie Nation’s hit Kernkraft 400 - but hey, it’s only 4 notes and we all did bass octaves, didn’t we??!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5LW07FTJbI
The song “Sombody” has been featured on a number of albums worldwide, including Caroline W in Sweden and Hi-5 in Greece (translated into Greek). “California” was originally a runner-up in Eurovision, and was recorded by the UK band More as well as being on the USA CD “The Gemz”. In recent years, many of my songs had excellent lyrics written by the very talented Chris Breen, such as “Victim of a Miracle” a song about contraception. His site is www.lyrico.co.uk
DO IT ON YOUR OWN
Music / words by Peter Baker
Performed by Cheryl Aster
Music and words by Peter Baker
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